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Transcript 16851

Transcript of doorstop Royal Hobart hospital

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/10/2009

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16851

PM: It's good to be back in Tasmania. Yesterday I was in Launceston and attended a forum with the Launceston general hospital on their needs and today I have a roundtable with medical and other staff here at Hobart.

This is part and parcel of our nationwide consultations with the health and hospital sector about the Bennett commission's report on the long term reform of the health and hospital system of Australia. Therefore what we are doing is road testing its recommendations, all 123 of them, with the health and hospital communities of the nation.

So far I've addressed some 13, I think today 14, of these around the country I think in most states of the commonwealth and the health minister and her colleagues have spoken at a number of others altogether some 55 such direct consultations in the last few months. And the reason is to get the direct feedback from practitioners in the field about their needs but in particular their concrete responses to the recommendations that have been put forward in the Bennett reform commission report. That's why were here and I'm looking forward to those responses and discussion with the medical community here in Hobart today.

Secondly of course we're here in Hobart to conduct our cabinet meeting at Hobart town hall followed by Community Cabinet later on this evening. We're looking forward to that, it's part of our regular practice as an Australian Government to take the cabinet to the community every month or so. I think the last time we did this was only a few weeks ago in Geraldton in Western Australia and here we are in Hobart today. We have done this in the communities in Arnhem land with Indigenous leaders and the Indigenous community in the Northern Territory, also in North Queensland, in metropolitan Sydney, in parts of Melbourne, Adelaide, the suburbs of Perth, Geraldton again most recently and of course we have done one before in Launceston and we're here today in Hobart and again, what's the point?

The point is to bring Cabinet to the people and to hear the communities response to what the Australian government is doing - good, bad or indifferent. It is part of the business of the Australian government in Canberra keeping in touch with the community and for us that's really important here in Tasmania and finally can I say how great it is to be back in Tasmania itself. I enjoy coming back here. I went to the local gym here this morning and various people commented on my state of physical fitness and I've taken their names and addresses, over to you folks.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister can you explain why you rang the Indonesian President in relation to a boatload of asylum seekers?

PM: First of all the assumption underpinning your question is wrong. I often talk to the President of Indonesia and I do so quite frequently, in fact if you were to ask me over the last six months how often I've spoken to President Yudhoyono, it would be on a large number of occasions.

Secondly I make absolutely no apology whatsoever for taking a hard line on illegal immigration to Australia. Therefore because this is a global and regional problem and a lot of the challenges are faced in Malaysia, Indonesia and elsewhere, it follows that you must work in close cooperation with your friends and partners in the region.

Furthermore in terms of the specific conversation, as I said on Hobart radio this morning we spoke about two sets of things - one was of course the devastation of the recent earthquake in Sumatra and the level of assistance Australia is providing to a natural disaster which has literally seen more than a thousand people killed and huge devastation of property. HMAS Kanimbla will be arriving offshore from Padang before too much longer and we already have many Australian personnel on the ground.

Secondly on the question of people smuggling, as I have done in the past and will do so in the future, elaborating further practical means of cooperation with the Indonesians on the challenge for Indonesia, the challenge for us, Australia, the challenge for Malaysia, as I've discussed recently with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia, as I've also discussed in recent times with the Sri Lankan Government as well. It's the right thing to do; it's a global problem; it's a regional problem; it's an Indonesian problem; it's an Australian problem and I believe in taking a hard line, using all the resources available to Australia in dealing with this challenge.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister on (inaudible level of support for nuclear power. Is it time for Labor to rethink (Inaudible) to perhaps consider it more as an option instead of ruling it out?

PM: Our approach for Australia is that this is a country rich in its own energy options. Part of our response to the challenge of greenhouse gas emissions is to make a large scale investment in carbon sequestration storage, CCS technologies, you all see that through the creation of the GCCSI, the global institute on carbon capture and storage, plus the 2.5 billion dollar, there approximately, investment or co-investment with industry in CCS projects.

That's really important, go to the quantums. If you look at what China and India are doing, go to mid-century - coal fired electricity generation is currently projected to go to from something around 40% of total electricity generation to something like 54% of electricity generation. That's what's happening, we have a huge challenge to deal with that.

Secondly, on renewables we have passed through parliament in recent times the increase in renewable energy target to 20% by 2020. We're also directly co-investing with industry again in the largest single solar project in the country's history. Both in terms of what we're doing in partnership with industry but also in solar research and in other categories of renewables therefore, for us in Australia we do not see a nuclear power plant as part of our response to our energy future. Can I say to our opponents, it would be very useful if they 'fessed up about what exactly their policy is. In the past Mr Howard said he wanted to see nuclear power plants around Australia, what's Mr Turnbull's position? Mine is very clear.

JOURNALIST: Mr Prime Minister there is a push for more funding for aged care, is it (Inaudible)?

PM: Well when we look at the overall challenge of the health and hospital system you cannot simply chop aged care off and pretend that it's not part of the overall challenge.

Let me give you a practical example. I don't what the numbers are here at Royal Hobart , I'm sure I'll find out fairly soon but in hospitals around the country it's not a particular Tassie problem, this is an Australian problem. There are a lot of folk who have been classified under the ACAT system, am I right in that Minister? As belonging in high intensity care in aged care facilities but for whom there is not an appropriate aged care bed available, so what happens? Those folk are therefore left in acute beds in hospitals. Problem.

The cost of supporting people in acute care beds in hospitals is huge and as a result of that, it's a bad result for the taxpayer. It's also a bad result for the families and it's a bad result for people who need access to those acute care beds who are in need of normal surgery and the rest.

Therefore if you look carefully at the Bennett Commissions report it does deal with the future challenges of aged care. This is a huge long term challenge for Australia, also because of the aging of the population. The Minister has been very active in this area. It is part of the integrated response to the long term shape of our health and hospital system.

JOURNALIST: Are you aware of the campaign that is being launched...

PM: I'm pretty sure I'm about to be.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) Community services where they have Kevin87- they have a video of you being aged (inaudible) years and that's kind of their campaign too.

PM: That's a bit scary actually.

JOURNALIST: Are you aware of it?

PM: No I'm not aware of it at all but good luck to them. But you know something we welcome community debate on this. As I said yesterday in the forum in Launy, look, we have an increasing population, an ageing population based on the most recent data, by mid century an Australian population of the vicinity of 30 million.

Ageing population, the overall proportion of our population over 65 and the proportion of our population over 85. On top of that continual costs going through the roof, workforce costs in the health sector going through the roof, put all those things together and we have what the report describes as a health and hospital system at a tipping point.

Therefore you can't just get out a box of bandaids and say we'll stick one here, stick one there, a bit of sticking plaster over here and hope that it all holds together before tomorrow. What we actually need is a systemic examination of the problem and a systemic response of where you need to be for the next quarter of a century. That's what we're trying to do, it's hard, it's difficult and guess what it costs money too and therefore the parallel debate is how are we going to fund this health and hospital system for Australia's future as well.

JOURNALIST: Did you ask the Indonesians to use their navy to intercept the asylum seekers?

PM: We have a range of communications with the Indonesians at all sorts of levels. The business of diplomacy is not to go into the detail of the communications with the Indonesians or with any other foreign government. That is the right way to conduct diplomacy. I repeat what I said however, I make no apology whatsoever for working as closely as I need with our Indonesian friends and partners to get the results we all need in terms of illegal immigration.

JOUNRALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Yeah, yeah I will. I'm told I will anyway

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Well look, do you know how many public hospitals there are in Australia? 750. And they are big, they are medium and they are small. My job as Prime Minister of the country is to look at system needs in the whole state of Tasmania and the whole country. And therefore where does this hospital for example, in servicing the good people of Hobart need to be in 25 years time. I don't have the magical answer to that in my head.

What we have, however, is a response from the health reform commission which says long term investment for hospital funding needs to be put on a secure footing matched to population growth and matched to emerging health needs rather than, as I said, a bandaid for this week and a piece of sticking plaster for the next week. Also the health reform commission has some pretty stark recommendations.

One of the recommendations is that the Australian government should move towards full funding responsibility for all the health system and the hospital system with exception of 60% of the costs for acute hospital services. It also has a second recommendation which is moving beyond that first recommendation longer term to assuming full funding responsibility for the hospital system as well. What we are looking at in today's consultations here in Hobart is the communities response to that longer term. As I said, it's important to get beyond what's needed for the next week, six weeks and three months and twelve months, for what we need for the next twenty five years.

Can I just add though, the Australian health care agreement that the Health Minister negotiated with the state and territory health ministers in the end of 2008 - a $62 billion dollar agreement represents a 50% increase on the Australian governments allocation to the states and territories for health and hospitals, compared with the previous health care agreement for previous five years.

That is a substantial new investment from the Australian government. And that's quite aside from capital investments like the $40-50 million dollar investment in the Menzies research institute just around the corner from here engaged in critical translational research initiatives concerning diabetes, concerning cardiovascular complaints and other complaints as well. So we have to look system wide.

JOURNALIST: On the issue of diplomacy, without going into the detail, given your recent discussions in the US with the Japanese Prime Minister were you led to any hope that Japan would either reduce or abandon its whaling season this summer?

PM: The discussions with our friends in Tokyo continue at a diplomatic level, our position is absolutely clear about what end point we wish to get to. I'm respectful of the fact that we have a new government in Japan. I had a very good far ranging discussion with Prime Minister Hatoyama. We have more such discussions to have in the future. Also, as you know the Environment Minister is directly engaged with his American and Japanese counter parts as well.

JOURNALIST: Back on the local front one of the big Tasmanian issues is always going to be the Midland highway. It's shaping as a big State election issue at the moment, you had the pleasure of driving on the road last month. What were your thoughts on the condition of the road and is there going to be any federal assistance for an upgrade?

PM: Well I think when it comes to the Midland highway, correct me if I'm wrong, but we are currently investing some $160 million dollars-

KERR: $190.

PM: $190 million dollars, thank you. You always need to keep your local member next to you. And that's practical and immediate investment now to improve the quality of the road. I don't wish to buy into the state political debate on this, but let me do so. It's very easy for a State Opposition to go out there, mysteriously on the eve of a State election and say, 'wacko, we're going to invest a couple of million dollars into the dual carriageway or whatever it is of the Midland highway'. Very easy thing to say, very hard thing to do.

I'm in the practical business which is the investment in this States' overall transport infrastructure needs. Our investment in transport infrastructure in the first two years of this Government, compared with the last two years of the Howard Government has increased by some 63%. That's practical stuff including this $190 million investment for the Midlands highway. That's what we're about - practical investments within the envelope of fiscal sustainability.

JOURNALIST: Mr Ruddock last week said (inaudible) asylum seekers (inaudible) for a while.

PM: Can I just say on that. It seems to be that Phillip Ruddock was also that Minister who said that asylum seekers had thrown their kids overboard. I therefore place zero credibility on anything that Phillip Ruddock says about anything since that time. Anything he says about that subject at any time. In one fell swoop he destroyed his credibility to make comments on this issue. Secondly as I said before we make no apology whatsoever in terms of the series of hardline measures we are taking in relation to people smuggling and in relation to illegal immigration.

In terms of the series of hardline measures that we are taking in relation to people smuggling, and in relation to illegal immigration, we have a significant new investment right across the nation in terms of police resources, security collaboration with our friends and partners in the region, including Indonesia- to deal with a region-wide problem. There has been recently a very large and brutally fought civil war in Sri Lanka. That is leading to a huge set of pressures, push pressures in the entire region. That's what's happening.

Therefore all regional countries are in the practical business of working against that particular challenge. One other thing- I seem to see also that Mr Ruddock is calling for the reintroduction of what's called Temporary Protection Visas. Can I just draw to your attention that after the Howard Government brought in Temporary Protection Visas which he now calls for the reintroduction of today, and the reintroduction of the Pacific Solution, that after that occurred in 1999, do you know how many additional illegal- how many additional asylum seekers came to Australia?

In the next two years, nearly 10,000, on nearly 100 boats. That's in the two years immediately following the introduction of TPVs. So I would say to those who want to bring back TPVs, who want to bring back the Pacific Solution, ask yourself this question- what is the record in the two years immediately following the introduction of these measures? And secondly, why did the Howard Government spend more on the Pacific Solution than it did in fact in the actions that were necessary on the high seas, and through our naval resources and others in dealing with the practical problem on the ground?

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, does the Government need to be flexible with stimulus spending if the economy keeps improving?

PM: On the question of stimulus, let me just make a few points. First is, the Government's economic infrastructure stimulus strategy is working. That is why Australia has the fastest growth of all the 33 advanced economies in the world. Why it has the lowest unemployment of all the major advanced economies in the world. Why we are the only major advanced economy not to have gone into recession. And we've had the lowest debt, and the lowest deficit of all the major advanced economies. Now they are matters of record.

Secondly, if you look at the structure of our stimulus strategy, it already has built into it an acceleration and a deceleration, that's the way in which its planned. What's stimulus supposed to be? Targeted, temporary, and timely, in order to make a difference on the real economy, and jobs, which has been front and centre for us. Of our first stimulus package, 93% of that has already been spent. Of the total stimulus strategy, by the end of the current financial year, some two thirds will have already been invested. That's what it means being targeted, temporary, and timely.

If you were to take the recommendation of certain people, and to bring about the total and immediate withdrawal of stimulus, think about what the implications would be. As the Secretary of the Treasury said only the other day, if you were to withdraw the scheduled stimulus investments for 2010/11, just overnight, the impact would be reduced growth of 1.5%. And a loss of an additional 100,000 jobs.

That is the consequences of this sort of call. As the Treasurer said yesterday, we will always, and have always, kept our fiscal policy settings under review, consistent with emerging economic circumstances and consistent also with global economic data, which at present is still very patchy. But I'd just conclude by saying this. Mr Turnbull, for the first six months of this year, said that there were three priorities for the Australian Government. Jobs, jobs, and jobs. And suddenly, jobs disappeared from his language in recent months. Jobs, jobs, jobs from Mr Turnbull has now turned into silence, silence, silence. Now I wonder why that is. Can I just go to the actual impact of what we have done through stimulus, and in turn, its impact on jobs.

My challenge to Mr Turnbull today is to come out and to repeat his statement of the first six months of the year, that the first three priorities of the Australian Government should be jobs, jobs, jobs. Why has he suddenly gone silent?

You see, if you were to take his plan, which is for the total and immediate withdrawal of all stimulus, the impact will be to throw a huge number of Australians into unemployment. And what you would have as a direct consequence of Mr Turnbull's call for the immediate withdrawal of all stimulus is unemployment queues snaking all around the suburbs, and outside every CES office. This Government stands for jobs. We are unapologetic about that.

And we'll continue with that strategy for the future.

Transcript 16851